9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Late career and retirement Building II, C5.07

Firm-level policies and late career transitions in Germany, Japan and Britain: A qualitative case study approach in the chemical, steel and retail industries

Demographic developments will lead to an ageing of the workforce in most industrialised countries as fewer young people enter the labour force. At the same time, research observes that individuals show divergent retirement behaviour across countries. OECD data found that individuals tend to leave the labour market well before reaching the national pension age in both Germany and Britain, but that individuals stay in work well beyond national retirement age in Japan. Literature has discussed the influence of institutional systems such as the labour market, social security systems and pension systems on the propensity to stay up until or beyond retirement age. However, research has not yet investigated the potential role of firm level Human Resource Management policies and practices in influencing retirement perceptions, expectations and behaviour of individuals across countries.
This paper will aim to close this gap by exploring how older workers in three countries, (Britain, Japan and Germany), and in three industries (retail, chemical and steel) perceive and conceptualise their last years in employment as well as their transition into retirement in light of employers´ attitudes towards older workers as well as in light of corporate age management policies and practices.
To do this, we will firstly use available quantitative datasets to outline how employers in all three countries perceive the capabilities and performance potential of their older employees. Secondly, we will draw on qualitative interview data from two projects, funded by the British "Economic and Social Research Council" and the "British Council" respectively. Semi-structured interviews have been conducted with HR managers, line managers and employee representatives in the respective countries and industries on their organisations´ age management policies and on how these are being implemented. Based on individual interviews and focus group interviews with older workers in these countries and industries, we will explore how older workers perceive these HR policies and their influence upon their own individual late career and retirement expectations and behaviour.